What is controlling?

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:16 am

kirk5a wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:
Chanmyay Sayadaw wrote:When I conducted a meditation retreat in England, one of the meditators had put much effort into his practise both sitting as well as walking, and awareness of the activities too. So after about four days meditation he came to me and asked a question. ''Venerable Sir, my meditation is getting worse and worse,' he said. 'Now what happen to your meditation?' I asked him. Then he said, 'When I am walking one day, Venerable Sir, then gradually I am not aware of myself. The foot itself had lifted, and it itself pushed forward, and then dropped down by itself. There's no I or no me, no self, no myself. Sometimes though I control my foot, the foot doesn't stay with the ground. It lifted by itself. Sometimes it pushed forward very long. I couldn't control it. Then sometimes it's getting down by itself. So my meditation is getting worse and worse. What should I do?' Then eventually he said, 'I think I have gone mad.' Such an experience was very amazing.
http://buddhanet.net/vmed_4.htm


I don't think it's amazing when someone thinks that he's gone mad...

Me either. I've had that experience. There's nothing liberating about it. It's depersonalization.
Depersonalization (or depersonalisation) is an anomaly of self-awareness. It consists of a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization


I am would be very wary of mixing 20th centurn Western psychology with the wisdom of the Dhamma. When one takes refuge in the Triple Gem, one adverts to the teachings and one's own discrimination in regards to knowing the mind. I do not see room for 20th century Western psychology when one is truly committed to the path. This is not to say that psychology doesn't have it's place: for those who are not committed to the path, it can certainly be helpful. But, like even the Dhamma itself, it must eventually be abandoned when it is no longer needed. From my own personal experience, since I have become absolutely committed to the Noble Eightfold Path, I find all answers to the mind's problems and worries in the suttas when I apply my discrimination to them. There is no better mind-medicine than the Dhamma.

If by renouncing a lesser happiness one may realize a greater happiness, let the wise man renounce the lesser, having regard for the greater.

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.21.budd.html

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:49 am

kirk5a wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Me either. I've had that experience. There's nothing liberating about it. It's depersonalization.

I don't think he's saying that it is "liberating", in itself. Just that it's the sort of observation that people report when paying close attention to the body-mind (which, as Chownah says, seems to be the point of many discourses).

If this sort of observation is just a depersonalisation disorder then is depersonalisation disorder something that the Buddha suffered from?

Of course not. Depersonalization has nothing whatsoever to do with those quotations. Far from being free of self-grasping, depersonalization (as described in the link I posted - "a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation") is actually extreme self-consciousness.



I'm not disputing that some might diagnose such experiences like that. Obviously I don't agree that the diagnosis in terms of psychological problems is useful in this case.

It would be interesting to hear how you would interpret the instructions in the discourses, which, to me are obviously talking about personal experience - seeing intentions, thoughts, etc, rise and fall and realising that there is not a "self" directing them.

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:I'm not disputing that some might diagnose such experiences like that. Obviously I don't agree that the diagnosis in terms of psychological problems is useful in this case.

You don't agree, but what are you basing your disagreement upon? Have you personally had the experience of ""a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation" to the extent that you feel you may have gone mad? Just like the meditator in the quotation you provided? I have.
It would be interesting to hear how you would interpret the instructions in the discourses, which, to me are obviously talking about personal experience - seeing intentions, thoughts, etc, rise and fall and realising that there is not a "self" directing them.

They are indeed talking about personal experience, but it is not the debilitating experience of watching yourself act while feeling that your own actions are out of control.

The suttas never say that one's own intentional actions happen "by themselves" or that they are completely out of control. On the contrary, as I have emphasized before in pointing to this sutta:
How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“When there is an element of initiating, are initiating beings [4] clearly discerned?”

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:19 am

Hi Kirk,

Perhaps we are disagreeing because I took the "I feel like I'm going mad" statement as simply a dramatic way of stating the surprise that the meditator felt, whereas you seem to be taking it as an integral part of the description.

What I'm talking about is a clear perception of the sequence of events, where, for example, the intention to move the foot is clearly discerned, then the motion itself, which is seen to be a result of that intention. It can occasionally be clear that neither the intention nor the motion is "controlled" by some self. There is intention. There is motion. (As in the sutta you quoted, though, I must admit, I find that meaning of that particular sutta rather obscure, which is why I quoted suttas to do with observing the rise and fall of the aggregates and so on.) It's not that it is "out of control", but there is an inevitability in the sequence that is not apparent when one is just functioning in everyday life without careful examination.

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:24 pm

Whether or not what the Buddha described could be seen as dissociation in itself, was this (experiencing the lack of control... and only if he ever taught that) unique to him during his time?

If it wasn't, what was it that made his observations different? I think that might be crucial to the practice.

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:21 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Whether or not what the Buddha described could be seen as dissociation in itself, was this (experiencing the lack of control... and only if he ever taught that) ...

Isn't the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta talking about not being able to control the khandhas?
"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

beeblebrox wrote:unique to him during his time?

If it wasn't, what was it that made his observations different? I think that might be crucial to the practice.

Evidently an understanding of not-self:
12. "Though certain recluses and brahmans claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging... they describe the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self. They do not understand one instance... therefore they describe only the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ntbb.html

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:Whether or not what the Buddha described could be seen as dissociation in itself, was this (experiencing the lack of control... and only if he ever taught that) ...

Isn't the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta talking about not being able to control the khandhas?
"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html



Hi Mike,

I wonder if it could be that he was only disputing a particular form of controlling... i.e., the one that was based on permanence (i.e., from a reference point that never changes), self, or ease? From our point of view, this kind of control would be seen as "magical."

It's something that just occurred to me, and maybe interesting for the discussion... it's not necessarily my set view.

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:49 pm

Well, sure, in the sutta impermanence (and suffering) is intimately entwined with not-self. But are you suggesting that it is possible to simply decide to control perceptions, thoughts, etc? That they don't just arise due to causes and conditions?

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:03 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Well, sure, in the sutta impermanence (and suffering) is intimately entwined with not-self. But are you suggesting that it is possible to simply decide to control perceptions, thoughts, etc? That they don't just arise due to causes and conditions?


Hi Mike,

Yes, I think the control involves at least some work (dukkha... or maybe that depends on one's perspective of it); the control isn't always going to be successful (anicca); and it's always going to be dependent on the conditions around it (non-self).

Everything arises due to causes and conditions... but that doesn't mean something is negated (i.e., the control) just because someone is trying to view it outside of the causes and conditions.

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:13 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Everything arises due to causes and conditions... but that doesn't mean something is negated (i.e., the control) just because someone is trying to view it outside of the causes and conditions.

:anjali:


Hi beeblebrox,

The trying to look outside the causes and conditions to get a view of the causes and conditions is itself made up of causes and conditions. It is infinite regression. The goal is the Unconditioned and until one has "attained" or "seen" the Unconditioned, everything that makes up our experience (the five aggregates) is made up of causes and conditions. Everything.

At least that's my understanding. :tongue:

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:37 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Well, sure, in the sutta impermanence (and suffering) is intimately entwined with not-self. But are you suggesting that it is possible to simply decide to control perceptions, thoughts, etc? That they don't just arise due to causes and conditions?

:anjali:
Mike

Does this sound like an uncontrollable mind?
"And, yes, I think whatever thought I want to think, and don't think any thought I don't want to think. I will any resolve I want to will, and don't will any resolve I don't want to will. I have attained mastery of the mind with regard to the pathways of thought.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:48 pm

kirk5a wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Well, sure, in the sutta impermanence (and suffering) is intimately entwined with not-self. But are you suggesting that it is possible to simply decide to control perceptions, thoughts, etc? That they don't just arise due to causes and conditions?

:anjali:
Mike

Does this sound like an uncontrollable mind?
"And, yes, I think whatever thought I want to think, and don't think any thought I don't want to think. I will any resolve I want to will, and don't will any resolve I don't want to will. I have attained mastery of the mind with regard to the pathways of thought.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


There's controlling pathways of thought, and there's the fact that dhammas arise at mano without any control being possible, even for an arahant. So this is a question of terms, I think.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:07 am

To deny freewill by seeing all perceptions and thoughts are colored by defilements, intuition and accumulated knowledge, the whole outcome of its cause and effect will simply be seen as determinism.

I assume that most practitioners who understood everything is conditioned and not-self will hardly buy into the idea of the self-doer.

Is there a more convincing middle way that Theravada Buddhism has to offer to look through this?

At the moment i'm stuck in the vague concept of Compatibilism. :rolleye:
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Sylvester » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:25 am

kirk5a wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Well, sure, in the sutta impermanence (and suffering) is intimately entwined with not-self. But are you suggesting that it is possible to simply decide to control perceptions, thoughts, etc? That they don't just arise due to causes and conditions?

:anjali:
Mike

Does this sound like an uncontrollable mind?
"And, yes, I think whatever thought I want to think, and don't think any thought I don't want to think. I will any resolve I want to will, and don't will any resolve I don't want to will. I have attained mastery of the mind with regard to the pathways of thought.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Maybe a peek at the text might shed some light on what's really operating here. Taking Ven T's translation above, this comes from -

Ahaṃ hi brāhmaṇa yaṃ vitakkaṃ ākaṅkhāmi vitakketuṃ, taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkemi. Yaṃ vitakkaṃ nākaṅkhāmi vitakketuṃ, na taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkemi. Yaṃ saṅkappaṃ ākaṅkhāmi saṅkappetuṃ, taṃ saṅkappaṃ saṅkappemi. Yaṃ saṅkappaṃ nākaṅkhāmi saṅkappetuṃ, na taṃ saṅkappaṃ saṅkappemi.


A more literal translation would render the relevant part as "Whatever thought, brahmin, I wish to think, I think that thought." etc etc following the same pattern for this standard type of ya...ta... clauses.

Does the control lie in the "to think" underlined? I doubt it, as it is vitakketuṃ, an infinitive indicating purpose, rather than an active action verb. In the subordinate clause, the action verb is ākaṅkhāmi (I wish/desire).

Why a Buddha's desire is not frustrated, unlike the situation in SN 22.59, can probably be profitably gleaned from AN 10.2 and AN 11.2. Those things wished for (indicated by the imperative uppajjatū) that happen without need for an act of will (na cetanāya karaṇīyaṃ) arise without need for volition because it is dhammatā (natural). That dhamma, IMO, is Dependant Cessation.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:37 am

Thanks Syvester.

Note that this issue of whether we have any control over awakening has been discussed at length in Robert's thread:
The causes for wisdom
See, for example:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&p=244550&hilit=control#p244550

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Sylvester » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:49 am

I'm going for the "voice of another" as the necessary condition for the arising of volition to embark and practise. :stirthepot:
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby reflection » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:07 am

I'd say that "I have attained mastery of the mind with regard to the pathways of thought" means having destroyed the defilements. As in MN 19: "Whenever thinking imbued with harmfulness had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence."

But that speaks against free will, doesn't it? Because a Buddha or another arahant actually can't even choose to think thoughts connected with anger or desire.. It's not even a choice as it is supposedly impossible, wiped out of existence. So in a sense they have less freedom ;) and "I think whatever thought I want to think" means to think thoughts connected with the wholesome and no thoughts connected with the unwholesome. It should not be read as some "I" that is separate from the thoughts and that is able to control them in an ultimate sense.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:40 am

I sometimes ask the question "Who is being mindful". I haven't come up with an answer yet. ;)
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:25 am

"Control" doesn't imply that there is a "controller" (who is fixed right inside the scheme of things)... "decision" doesn't mean that there is a special "self" who is making all of these decisions... etc.

If someone wanted to make this kind of connection, it seems like he's actually the one who wants to view it through the lens of "self"? (Whether there was an awareness of this, or not?)

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:39 am

Sylvester wrote:I'm going for the "voice of another" as the necessary condition for the arising of volition to embark and practise. :stirthepot:

Hmmm, that sounds like a Brahmic statement... :tongue:

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